100+ Consumers Planning Action Against Google's Tracking Further International Cases to Follow

Feb 01, 2013, 05:30 ET from Olswang LLP

LONDON, February 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Over a hundred people have contacted the law firm that has launched a landmark privacy case against Google, declaring their wish to join the action in the English courts after the internet giant circumvented the security settings on Apple's Safari browser which allowed it to track online usage covertly.

Less than a week after it was launched in the UK, 106 people have asked the law firm, Olswang, to bring a case on their behalf. Over 500 people have expressed their concern for Google's behaviour by endorsing the Safari Users Against Google's Secret Tracking Facebook page created to provide information to people affected.  The Facebook page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/SafariUsersAgainstGooglesSecretTracking  

So far, Google has made no comment about the legal action.

The claims centre around tracking cookies, which were secretly installed by Google on the computers and mobile devices of people using Apple's Safari internet browser.

The first claimant to issue a letter of claim against Google, 74-year-old Judith Vidal-Hall, said: "Google can no longer be unaware of the strength of feeling about its secret tracking but continues to refuse to explain its conduct to consumers.  People are quite rightly outraged that a global company is treating them in this way.  We hope anyone who used Safari and who was covertly targeted by tailored advertising joins this action."

Through its Doubleclick adverts, Google designed a code to circumvent privacy settings in order to deposit the cookies on computers which allowed them to provide user-targeted advertising.  The claimants thought that cookies were being blocked on their devices because of Safari's strict default privacy settings and separate assurances being given by Google at the time.  This was not the case.

The practice was only stopped when an academic researcher noticed Google's activity and published an exposé in the United States.  Google was subsequently found to be in violation of an existing order from the US Federal Trade Commission and was fined a record $22.5million.

Olswang say that this action breached their clients' confidence and privacy and are now seeking damages, disclosure and an apology from the company.

Dan Tench, a Partner at Olswang, said: "The volume of requests to take action against Google should be no surprise given its reach within our society. Consumers tell us they are determined to hold Google to account. Anyone who used the Safari browser between September 2011 and February 2012 may have a claim."  

The firm has also received requests from claimants in other European jurisdictions asking whether similar claims can be brought in other countries.  For information on joining the claim, email safaribreach@olswang.com

Media enquiries: Olswang Press Office on +44(0)20-7067-3046.